By Jamie Leary and Rick Sallinger

(CBS4) – The third mountain lion attack in under a year has taken place in Colorado, and while Colorado Parks and Wildlife still has more to learn, it says there is a common trait among the three: the lions in each case were juveniles.

“When we do have attack incidents it tends to be with younger lions and generally that just means they haven’t really learned how to hunt, they’re still kind of naive and so anything that kind of looks (like prey), or it deems to be prey that they can eat, is what they’ll go after,” said Rebecca Ferrell, public information officer for CPW.

READ MORE: Colorado Weather: Winter Weather Advisory For The Front Range

(credit: iStock/Getty Images Plus)

In February, trail runner Travis Kauffman killed a lion while being attacked. Last week a mountain lion went after a hunter near Kremmling. Then on Wednesday evening in Bailey an 8-year-old boy was attacked outside his home.

Despite the fact that the attacks may have resulted from mistakes by young lions, Ferrell says three in one year is not the norm.

“We hear a lot that, you know, ‘It’s just doing what a mountain lion does.’ The fact that it happens so rarely proves that it is not what mountain lions do.”

Ferrell says another possible reason for the number of attacks this year is the population increase.

“In reality, the largest issue that’s probably leading to an increased number of attacks this year is just the increased number of people in Colorado. More people moving into those areas, like Bailey,” she said.

CPW says in most cases involving human conflicts with predators, the animal is put down.

READ MORE: Mauricio Anchondo-Olivas Sentenced To Life In Prison For Murder Of Former Roommate

“We understand and appreciate that the loss of wildlife in Colorado feels very personal to most in Colorado, but at the end of the day our priority will always be health and human safety.”

Ferrell says much of the advice when dealing with mountain lions is the same when it comes to co-existing with most wildlife.

“Specifically with lions, we want to reinforce that you never run. You never want to run from a mountain lion because that indicates that it’s a prey behavior for them.”

She says while the population increase likely means more human encounters with wildlife, the more people know, the less likely it will result in injury.

“Lion attacks and overall wildlife attacks are pretty rare in Colorado and we want people to remember that. And don’t let that deter you from the things you love to do and the reason why you live in Colorado.”

CBS4’s Rick Sallinger is a Peabody award winning reporter who has been with the station more than two decades doing hard news and investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter @ricksallinger.

MORE NEWS: PHOTOS: Cheesman Park Homes & Governor's Mansion Vandalized With Spray Paint

Jamie Leary joined the CBS4 team in 2015 and currently works as a reporter for CBS4 News at 10 p.m. She couldn’t imagine a better place to live and work and will stop at nothing to find the next great story. Jamie loves learning about and hearing from her fellow community members, so connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @JamieALeary.